New Book by Jim Brownell Chronicles the Lost Villages

Jason Setnyk
New Book by Jim Brownell Chronicles the Lost Villages
Author Jim Brownell stands by a sign for Moulinette, Ontario, a town submerged by the creation of the St. Lawrence Seaway in 1958. (Photo : Ginette Guy Mayer)

Long Sault, Ontario – Local historian, former SDSG MPP, and retired teacher Jim Brownell will release a book, “A Tour Through the Lands of the Lost Villages,” on Sunday, May 26, 2024. The launch event will be held at the Lost Villages Brewery from 1-4 p.m., inviting the community to explore the rich history and heritage of the region.

As a long-serving President of the Lost Villages Historical Society, Brownell has been at the forefront of preserving the stories of the communities submerged during the creation of the St. Lawrence Seaway in the 1950s. His book aims to guide those interested in exploring the lands and learning about the history that once thrived along “The Front” of the St. Lawrence River.

Brownell’s inspiration for the book came from the imminent end of the bus tours he has hosted for many years. “With support from many folks, I was encouraged to get my thoughts down on paper,” he said. The final push came during a meeting with Debi Lucas, CAO for the Township of South Stormont, who urged him to seize the moment and start writing.

The book is a culmination of years of research and personal experiences. “During my many years as an educator and as President/Archivist of the Lost Villages Historical Society, I have amassed a huge collection of documents and notes on the Lost Villages,” Brownell explained. He also credits his late father, Earle Brownell, and his fourth-grade teacher, Fran Laflamme, for inspiring his passion for the history of the Hydro and Seaway projects.

Brownell is confident the book will connect to a broad audience. “With over 500 names in the index, many will connect to the families that continue to live along ‘The Front’ of the St. Lawrence,” he said. “My hope is that readers will use the book as a guide to go out along “The Front” of the St. Lawrence River and discover the history and heritage of the community.” The book includes detailed driving instructions, making it a valuable tour guide for those wishing to immerse themselves in local history.

The story of the Lost Villages has significantly shaped the identity and culture of the region. Brownell noted the numerous entities now identified with the words “Lost Villages,” such as the Lost Villages Historical Society and Museum, the Lost Villages Lions Club, the Lost Villages Brewery, plus Aultsville and Moulinette at St. Lawrence College allude to it. “There is a special identity in our little corner of Eastern Ontario through the words ‘Lost Villages’ and through the heritage of the ‘lost’ communities,” he concluded.

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